As our communities continue to live through the pandemic, we are touched by the generosity of those caring for others and the needs they face. We will experience yet another winter of seclusion and isolation, which for many, is a very difficult time. November is National Caregivers Month and this annual event honors those who give of themselves to care for others. While there are a number of national this and that months, for us at the Council, caregiving is one that touches our hearts.

Caregiving can come in many forms when supporting someone through their life journey. It may start as a spouse taking on daily care, a neighbor helping a neighbor, a community member hired to care for an elder, or a grandparent raising grandchildren. All caregivers share a common desire to help another live their life well. These are just a few examples of “giving care” that is alive and well in our communities.

We see caregiving through our agency in many different ways. We appreciate the dedication of our hundreds of volunteers who deliver meals or prepare food at one of our 17 meal sites/senior centers. Area pets are supported with donations of food from friends who understand the valued role our pets provide in our lives. We support the spouse providing care to a loved one living with dementia or the neighbor who has become frail and is challenged by simple everyday tasks. In our monthly support group programs, we hear caregivers share their journey of moving from their daily routine to that of caregiver and the impact on their lives as the result.

Simple gestures mean the world to someone in need and this month we challenge everyone to reach out and share an act of kindness. Perhaps it’s a visit to a neighbor or family member, or making a meal for a neighbor. Consider helping an older friend or neighbor with fall clean-up or volunteering with our agency to help meet an unmet need. In 1965, The Older Americans Act was originated by a group of visionary legislators who understood what our communities need to live healthy lives and to age well.

The cornerstone of that legislation provides the resources for local communities to come together, neighbor to neighbor, and to help each other. Take some time this month and reach out…..we all know someone who could benefit from a caring touch!

Meg Burmeister is executive director of the NEK Council on Aging.

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